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No ShortcutsOrganizing for Power in the New Gilded Age$
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Jane F. McAlevey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190624712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190624712.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
No Shortcuts

Jane F. McAlevey

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the current scholarly understanding of unions has failed to explain why unions have faltered over the years, and discusses what must be done to rectify this. First, it notes that the reason for the decline is the significant and long-term shift away from deep organizing and toward shallow mobilizing. Second, the academic split between “labor” and “social movements” has hampered what little organizing has been done. Together, these two trends help account for the failure of unions and progressive politics, the ever-shrinking public sphere, and the unabashed rule by the worst and greediest corporate interests. Finally, the chapter shows how different approaches to change lead to different outcomes, focusing on three broad types of change process: advocacy, mobilizing, and organizing, with particular emphasis on the latter two.

Keywords:   labor unions, social movements, organizing, mobilizing, advocacy, progressive politics, failure of unions, change processes

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